Browser Daily Newsletter 1264


Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Why Physicists Make Up Stories In The Dark

Philip Ball | Nautilus | 6th March 2014

Masterly essay on light and darkness in science and culture. We used to think of light as a simple state of nature. But in the late 19C scientists found light to be "a small slice of a rainbow" extending "far into the unseen" via radio waves, infrared and X-rays. Physics found its new frontiers in the worlds of the dark and the invisible, and began advancing into the territory of myth and mystery, of "dark matter" and "dark energy" ( words)

A Hundred Thousand Hourglasses

Brian Feldman | Medium | 17th March 2014

In praise of Purkinje cells, the neurons in our brain that collect the flurry of ambient chatter from our hundred-billion nerve fibres and extract from it the urgent messages that require the immediate attention of body and mind. "If you’re a cranky pessimist, the Purkinje cells might seem like autocrats, but if you’re an easygoing optimist, they’re like a good set of parents: strict, but always looking out for your best interests" (1,420 words)

The Secret World Of Fast Fashion

Christina Moon | Pacific Standard | 17th March 2014

How Korean immigrants reinvented the American fast-fashion industry. They left Korea in the 1960s and 1970s for Brazil, Argentina, New York, California; resettled in LA in the 1980s and 1990s concentrating capital, expertise and connections; the kids go to Parsons. Clothes are designed in LA, outsourced to China and Vietnam, sold to US wholesalers within the month. Top of the tree: the Chang family, owners of Forever 21 (2,470 words)

Bruce Sterling’s Closing Remarks At SXSW 2014

Bruce Sterling | Pastebin | 15th March 2014

Sterling's annual closing speech at the SXSW festival of technology and music in Austin, Texas, has become a festival institution, a rambling improvised tour-d'horizon of everything trending in global geek culture. This year's rant includes generous admixtures of nostalgia, European and American politics, black-hat hacking, sci-fi and surveillance. "The future is about old people, in big cities, afraid of the sky" (6,540 words)

Review: Revolutionary Ideas

Duncan Kelly | Financial Times | 14th March 2014

New study by Jonathan Israel, Princeton history professor, portrays the French Revolution as primarily a "revolution in ideas" rather than a "class conflict". The modern secular political order which inspired France took shape in the 17C Dutch Republic and was elaborated by Benedict Spinoza, who gave "philosophically defensible form" to ideas of "self-government and freedom of expression", with Nature in the role of God (1,020 words)

A Primer On Inequality And Economic Growth

Filip Spagnoli | 16th March 2014

Short and plain; mostly graphs; particularly helpful in situating the newly influential ideas of Thomas Picketty. Incomes tend to be more equal in richer countries. But in developing countries – those with most growth still ahead of them – inequality and growth go together. Tentative conclusion: inequality is a cause or effect of growth spurts; sustained growth requires the political stability associated with greater equality (570 words)

Video of the day:  Missing U

What to expect: Poetry; animation; fairy-tale sensibility

Thought for the day:

"Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world" — Karl Kraus

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